The shift to a more human-centric era of IT
Dr Joseph Reger considers how digital technologies can be used to address some of mankind's most acute problems.
In our industry, we’re all talking about the Internet of Things. However, Fujitsu’s strategic direction, to help create a Human Centric Intelligent Society, is a larger and, I’d argue, better concept. Human Centric Intelligent Society reflects two very important aspects of how information and communications technology can contribute to the development of society in general.
The idea of an Intelligent Society is more than simply a society penetrated by ICT — that application of technology has got to be intelligent, too. Intelligent doesn’t just mean that it’s an enabler of automation or it helps us to make decisions: it means doing the right thing, applying technology in human-oriented ways.
You may ask, if we’re entering an era when the Internet will no longer be dominated by people but by ‘things’ — at least in terms of sheer numbers of devices — how can ICT be seen as human-centric? Shouldn’t we be talking about a ‘device-centric intelligent society’?
In our thinking, the distinction is this: while most of the work will indeed be done by devices and things, the goal is they are going to be doing it on behalf of people — so, ‘by things but for people.’
Behind the Human Centric concept is a desire to bring ICT to bear on some of the largest and most pressing problems of mankind — ageing populations, population density, healthcare provision, transportation management, environment protection, and much more.
As a Japanese-originated company, Fujitsu has some advantages in this respect, with first-hand knowledge of some of the problems that are now facing most of the developed parts of the world.
We are, of course, a technology company so, naturally, our answer to some of these challenges comes from a technology perspective. But we’re not just producing the required technologies and services, we are also putting them into overall solutions, as well as providing platforms so that other companies can innovate on top of those.
Already there are a number of spectacularly successful projects that demonstrate what results one can achieve if these modern information and communication technologies are applied to the major societal challenges.
This is not just Fujitsu being noble, showing we’re happy to be doing good things. Building a Human Centric Intelligent Society is actually in the financial interests of countries and regions. The challenges we are talking about here are already among the most expensive budget commitments of society. Whether it’s the ageing infrastructure of roads and bridges or healthcare, the amount of money we spend today on these issues demands the question: are there not better ways of doing this?
So if we address these things it’s not just that ICT becomes Human Centric, making all of our lives easier, healthier, more enjoyable. It will contribute tremendously to how we develop society’s expenditure, letting us actually address the things that need doing.
• Dr Reger will be delivering a keynote on Open Source at Fujitsu Forum 2015 in Munich, November 18 and 19